The Guardian • Issue #2029


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2029
Weasel Words heading


/ˌkɑː.bən ˈnjuː.trəl/

This is a good thing, right? It means that the thing which has been so described at least doesn’t add any more carbon emissions to the atmosphere, right?

If only. Australian Big Four bank, NAB, taking time off from its busy schedule of charging dead people for advice, has issued a statement about its “carbon neutral status” since 2010. Hoorah, capitalism works, I’m leaving the party! I’ll just read the rest of NAB’s announcement first “as defined in our carbon inventory.” Oh. It turns out that NAB’s definitions in its carbon inventory, allow the big bank’s investments to enable 3.6 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2016-2020. That’s like me having a carbon inventory that defines my car as not counting for some reason, then driving from Melbourne to Perth and back with the windows open and the air-conditioning on. Actually it’s a lot worse. I think I’ll stay in the Communist Party.



Look there’s a serious conversation to be had about defunding the police or at least doing something to stop the police force being used as a weapon against workers and/or protestors, not to mention the contribution various police forces around the country have made to the horrendous Black deaths in custody statistics, but this is a weasel word column and I’m not talking about the actual police, but the other police.

Who? Well there’s the “morality police,” the “fun police,” and of course the “woke police” (“woke” being another extremely weaselly word still popular with lazy bigots). These police don’t wear uniforms, don’t arrest anyone and don’t duff up protestors. All they do is disapprove of people that various reactionaries like.  Sometimes they take action – like the Netball Australia who no longer wishes to be sponsored by Hancock Prospecting. Or Essendon Football Club, which decided that, once the news was out, that having a CEO also running a church that was quite up-front about disapproving of homosexuality and a woman’s right to abortion. You might think Netball Australia and Essendon can do these things if they want – and they can! Only, however at the price of becoming “the morality police” or the “woke morality police” if you’re Matt Canavan. Weirdly, people who throw the “police” label around mean it as an insult, but are usually fine with the actual police putting the boot in.



Another thing which should always be good. You want to be consulted over decisions that affect you, right? It’s good to be consulted if your job is about to be changed or, worse, scrapped. Genuine consultation is a positive thing, but the word is used so weaselishly so often it should set alarm bells ringing every time.

All too often, consultation is treated like the Yes Minister definition of an official Inquiry – never have one unless you know what the outcome is going to be. This is how a lot of employers and governments see consultation – something that has to be gone through before the employer or government gets to do what they wanted to do anyway. Worse still, for employers, consultation can be a way of bypassing the union and wasting time with managerial fads such as “quality circles” and “vision sessions” instead of dealing with union representatives who have power and knowledge.

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